New York’s homeless no longer have to choose between feeding their pets or themselves, thanks to Collide, a ministry that provides food and care for people and their companion animals.

Twice a week from spring through fall, Collide works with Graffiti Church on the Lower East Side to serve meals picnic-style to the homeless and their pets, as well as provide people with pet food to take with them. Since the nonprofit began in 2010, it’s helped more than 300 animals.

“Since companion animals can play such a vital role in peoples’ mental and spiritual health, we see a lot of very memorable relationships with a lot of clients working to improve their lives partially out of love and devotion to their pets,” Jeff Latzer, a spokesperson for Collide, told Good News Network.

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Because animals can be so beneficial to the people who care for them, Collide and its team of volunteers work to keep pets with their owners. So in addition to supplying meals for the animals, the organization also offers medical care.

A volunteer veterinarian examines companion animals and provides vaccinations and medications when needed. Additionally, the Humane Society of New York has partnered with the nonprofit to provide spay and neuter services.

Collide also helps the homeless care for their animals by providing assistance in situations that don’t affect most pet owners.

For example, men and women sleeping on the streets often share stories of waking up to discover that their beloved pet is gone, a note left behind to explain that a passerby with good intentions has taken the animal. Because of this, Collide assists in licensing and microchipping pets so they can be more easily located in such situations.

And when a blizzard was headed for New York in January, the organization set up emergency boarding services for dogs, cats and rats so their human counterparts could find temporary housing at missions and shelters that don’t allow animals.

While Collide serves its outdoor meals only through the fall, its resources are available throughout the winter. If you’re interested in making a donation to Collide, you can do so on the organization’s website.

Laura Moss writes about a variety of topics with a focus on animals, science, language and culture. But she mostly writes about cats.

N.Y. soup kitchen feeds homeless and their pets
This unique nonprofit not only provides food, but also life-saving options for people whose pets are the closest thing they have to home.